THE DIGITAL TRANSITION: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly about The Digital Transition (Part 3)

Okay, we’ve spent a little time talking about the good parts of the digital transition, but no conversation can be complete without mentioning some of the “bad” that comes along with the transition.

There is a reason why I call this article what I do.

According to the people that wanted to make this transition appear to be less complicated than it really was, all you had to do to make the the transition, (if you used either rabbit ears or outdoor antenna for reception), was plug in your antenna or little set of rabbit ears to your new little digital to analog converter and you will have made the transition.

Simple, huh? Well…that’s the way they made it sound…kinda… and unfortunately, it just hasn’t quite worked out that way.

Many have already experienced some of the frustrations of working with digital signals. The reason I know this is because of the many phone calls I receive concerning problems with receiving the digital signals. Having said that, I can tell you that I have not, as yet, figured out why there is a problem with certain channels.  I’m not admitting defeat and I haven’t given up yet, but, I must admit that some of this has slowed me down a  bit.

I think that is because some of it just doesn’t compute when you take years of working with analog television reception and all of the different situations there. A person would think, “Since I already can receive my locals on my rabbit ears and the pictures are decent, I should be able to receive the digital signals well also?”

Unfortunately, that is not the case.

At first, I assumed the very same thing. I just thought since they got the Analog channels clearly (very little interference) they should get the Digital channels as well. That was my first rude awakening and “bad” experience with the new signal reception. I have had many since then and, to tell the truth, I am more than a little confused at times.

I have just about come to the conclusion that “set top” antennas are just not going to work for everyone, at least in our area.  I do know there are places I have been where they do work, but I have been to more places where they either only get a couple of channels or they get everything but our local CBS affiliate (Naples-Fort Myers DMA).

In communicating with customers about this situation I have run across a lot of frustrated people.

  • First, they were told the Digital transition was going to be almost transparent, (the analog would disappear and the digital would take its place.
  • Second, they were told all they would need to continue watching their favorite local stations was a digital to analog converter box.
  • Third, the government was making it affordable by offering a $40 coupon to go towards the purchase of those converters, (two coupons available per household.)

None of the above statements were made to mislead anyone, they just proved to be very short-sighted and an over-simplification of the entire process.

I’m not here to condemn the conversion, but I do have to point out that it has not gone as well as some might have expected and it is proving to be more of a challenge for some than even I expected.

Let’s face it, there are some that only wanted local channels and nothing else.  For many good reasons, they chose to use the signals they could receive with a very inexpensive “set-top” antenna and got very good reception for years via the analog signals. They were happy and didn’t have to pay extra for it as they would have if they had satellite or cable.

Some live in Condos  (commonly known to satellite and cable people as MDUs or Multiple Dwelling Units) and are not required to have a connection to cable as some of those units do require. Their inexpensive set of “rabbit ears” worked fine and they enjoyed the programs available via the analog signals through them. With the loss of those analog signals and only the digital being available, often their favorite station, or stations, were no longer receivable. For one reason or another they had no reception of the channel via the digital signal…

And that, my friends, is where much of the frustration comes in. I have received numerous calls about one channel, in particular, missing from the digital lineup. It strikes me as strange that the hardest station for people to get with their set-top antennas used to be one of the easiest to get at least in my experience over the years.  I have struggled more with gaining reception of WINK 11-1 (CBS) (in particular while using peoples existing or even a newer set of set top antenna), more than any other channel in the present digital spectrum in our area.

I have no answer as of yet, but I really do think I am getting closer to understanding why it is so hard. I am in contact with some people that I know are a little smarter than I am on this particular subject.

I have learned through experimentation that it seems to take a more directional antenna than the other channels in our area. I have not had the time to try a bunch of VHF/UHF set top antennas because, for one, there are bunch of them out there, and for two, I don’t have the kind of money to invest in something that really won’t matter to many other than my own understanding of it.

What I can say is, if you come back and visit us on a regular basis, we will spend more time on that subject later.

Coming up in part 4, we’ll talk about what I consider to be “The Ugly” of the digital transition…

See ya next time…


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Norman TV & Video Systems and Rusty Norman